Digital Commonwealth

Press Photography from the Brearley Collection

Boston Public Library

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This collection includes small, medium, and large format negatives taken by Boston press photographers dating from the 1920s through the early 1970s. It was amassed by photojournalist Dennis Brearley during the course of his career as a working photographer. From 1978 to 2012, Mr. Brearley and his wife Susan ran a photo gallery in Faneuil Hall selling prints from his photographs and the work of other press photographers in his collection. In 2013, Hunt Auctions began the process of selling the collection in lots. The Ten Pounds Collection, as it is affectionately dubbed, was purchased at auction by John Booras, a local Boston collector and amateur historian. The nickname of the collection is derived from the lot description, which consisted of the remainders of the original collection that were not deemed marketable; the lot was described and sold by weight rather than content.

With Mr. Booras' generous donation of the film negatives to Boston Public Library, the library added to its burgeoning collection of daily press photographs that includes the Leslie Jones Collection, the E.E. Bond Collection, and the Boston Herald-Traveler Photo Morgue. The photographs in the Brearley collection provide a glimpse into the rich and eventful history of Boston in the 20th century. Strengths of the collection include politics, visiting celebrities, natural and unnatural disasters, and quirky incidents and events that add depth to the breadth of Boston's history.

Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

Locations in this Collection: